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Staff Recommendations

2008 Top Nonfiction Picks

America 1908
by Jim Rasenberger
A breathtaking ride through the highs and lows of one spectacular, pivotal year in American history.

Year 2008 Top Fiction Picks

American Wife
by Curtis Sittenfeld
On what might become one of the most significant days in her husband’s presidency, Alice Blackwell considers the strange and unlikely path that has led her to the White House–and the repercussions of a life lived, as she puts it, “almost in opposition to itself.” A kind, bookish only child born in the 1940s, Alice learned the virtues of politeness early on from her stolid parents and small Wisconsin hometown. But a tragic accident when she was seventeen shattered her identity and made her understand the fragility of life and the tenuousness of luck.

Book of Lies
by Brad Meltzer
In Chapter Four of the Bible, Cain kills Abel. It is the world's most famous murder. But the Bible is silent about one key detail: the weapon Cain used to kill his brother. That weapon is still lost to history. In 1932, Mitchell Siegel was killed by three gunshots to his chest. While mourning, his son dreamed of a bulletproof man and created the world's greatest hero: Superman. And like Cain's murder weapon, the gun used in this unsolved murder has never been found. Until now.

Year 2008 Top Audiobook Picks

Belong to Me
by Marisa de los Santos
Everyone has secrets. Some we keep to protect ourselves, others to protect those we love. As their individual stories unfold, the three women become entangled in a web of trust, betrayal, love and loss that challenges them in ways they never imagined. Read by Julia Gibson.

Year 2008 Top Movie Picks

Across the universe
(Evan Rachel Wood, Jim Sturgess) This Beatles-inspired musical follows the arduous journey of star-crossed lovers Jude and Lucy as they are swept up in the volatile counterculture movement of the 1960s. The film’s soundtrack consists exclusively of songs made popular by the Beatles during this time period.

Year 2007 Top Movie Picks

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

(Sacha Baron Cohen)

Kazakh journalist Borat Sagdiyev travels to America to make a documentary, and not only generates strong reactions regarding his extreme prejudices, but also tries to meet and marry Pamela Anderson. (DVD)

Breach

(Chris Cooper, Ryan Phillippe, Laura Linney)

Year 2007 Top Audiobook Picks

The Book of the Dead

by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (CD and Playaway)

FBI Agent Pendergast is in a high security prison for a murder he did not commit while his psychotic brother is about to perpetrate a horrific crime. When the Tomb of Senef is unsealed in preparation for its gala reopening at a celebrity-studded New York gala, the killings and whispers of an ancient curse begin again. Read by Scott Brick.

Christine Falls

by Benjamin Black (CD)

Dublin pathologist Garret Quirke follows the corpse of a mysterious woman into the heart of a conspiracy among the city's high Catholic society, among them members of his own family. Read by Timothy Dalton.

Year 2007 Top Nonfiction Picks

Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love and Betrayal by Ben Macintyre: In 1941, after training as a German spy in occupied France, Chapman parachuted into Britain with a revolver, a wireless and a cyanide pill, with orders from the Abwehr to blow up an airplane factory. Instead, he contacted MI5, the British Secret Service. For the next four years, Chapman worked as a double agent, a lone British spy at the heart of the German Secret Service.

A Charmed Life: Growing Up in MacBeth's Castle by Liza Campbell: The daughter of a titled Scottish father recounts the horrors of her childhood in spite of popular beliefs about her fairy-tale lifestyle, describing her father's struggles with alcoholism that resulted in numerous brushes with death and the loss of his family's legacy.

Year 2007 Top Fiction Picks

The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritson: This story is gory, macabre and not for the faint of heart, but she does a great job with the period detail (1830s-70s history/medical details) and merges this with the present day relationship of a modern woman to people in this time period. It was quite suspenseful as the main character tries to research the history of the bones found in her garden. (Also available in Large Print.)

Year 2006 Top Movie Picks

Capote

(Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener)

The story of Truman Capote's creation of one of the most memorable books of the 1960s ”In Cold Blood”and his friendship with the accused killer he wrote about. (DVD)

Cars

(Voices of Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt)

Rookie race car Lightning McQueen takes a detour on his way to the upcoming Piston Cup Championship and ends up in the Route 66 town of Radiator Springs. (DVD)

Year 2006 Top Audiobook Picks

Can't Wait to Get to Heaven

by Fannie Flagg (CD and Cassette)

Flagg mixes humor, wisdom and pathos in creating a charming, life-affirming tale and a full cast of memorable characters. Read by Cassandra Campbell.

A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906

by Simon Winchester (CD and Cassette)

Dense with facts but light and breezy in style, Winchester recounts the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the longstanding dangers of the San Andreas Fault and the long-term consequences of the earthquake it caused. Read by the author.

Year 2006 Top Nonfiction Picks

All Governments Lie! The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I. F. Stone by Myra MacPherson: Always skeptical, "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out," he memorably quipped. I. F. Stone was ahead of the pack on the most pivotal 20th-century trends: Hitler and the rise of Fascism, the Cold War, Vietnam, and Reaganomics.

Year 2006 Top Fiction Picks

Black Swan Green by David Mitchell: The year is 1982 and 13-year-old Jason Taylor feels he is living in the sleepiest Worcestshire village in a dying Cold War England. However, as the 13 chapters reveal, the world Jason is living in is anything but sleepy.

The Copper Scroll by Joel Rosenberg: Another Dead Sea Scroll has been discovered, and this time it contains a code leading to great treasures. As plans emerge to rebuild the Third Jewish Temple in the Middle East, scientists who know about the scroll are mysteriously killed.

Year 2005 Top Movie Picks

The Aviator

(Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Alan Alda)

Martin Scorsese directed this fast-moving, epic-scale biography documenting the life and loves one of the most colorful Americans of the 20th century, Howard Hughes. (DVD and Videocassette)

Batman Begins

(Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson)

The origins of the Caped Crusader of Gotham City are finally brought to the big screen in this new adaptation of the perennially popular comic-book series. (DVD and Videocassette)

Year 2005 Top Audiobook Picks

1776 by David McCullough

(CD and Cassette)

In this stirring audiobook, McCullough tells the intensely human story of those who marched with General George Washington in the year of the Declaration of Independence when the whole American cause was riding on their success. Read by the author.

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell

(CD)

Utilizing diversified case studies, Gladwell reveals that what we think as decisions made in the blink of an eye are much more complicated than assumed. Drawing on cutting-edge neuroscience and psychology, he shows how decision-making is based on the few particular details that we focus. Read by the author.

Year 2005 Top Nonfiction Picks

Woman in the Mirror by Richard Avedon: An unparalleled portrait of women brings together 125 tritone photographs, taken over a tumultuous half century of changing social institutions and values, cultural ideals, popular styles, and high fashion, accompanied by an incisive essay on the life and work of the great photographer.

I'm Not the New Me by Wendy McClure: A humorous but poignant chronicle of the American weight-loss culture draws on the author's online sites Pound and Candyboots to describe her battle with self-esteem and weight, from dealing with a family legacy of fat and drastic surgery, developing self-confidence, to struggling to understand oneself both after the weight loss and if you gain it back.

Year 2005 Top Fiction Picks

Bachelor Boys by Kate Saunders: Saunders (The Marrying Game) humorously captures the love affair between the boisterous British Darling family and their lifelong girl-next-door, Cassie; but her beloved Phoebe Darling is dying and comes to Cassie with one last request: Will Cassie help find wives for her sons, two gorgeous, sexy, but wildly impractical bachelors still living in their mother's basement flat?

Year 2004 Top Movie Picks

Calendar Girls

(Helen Mirren, Julie Walters)

The prim and proper ladies of the Yorkshire Women's Institute breathe new life into one of their fundraising campaigns by posing nude in their annual calendar. (DVD and Videocassette)

The Day After Tomorrow

(Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal)

A climatologist and his family must find a way to survive the devastation caused by an extreme shift in the global climate. (DVD and Videocassette)

Year 2004 Top Nonfiction Picks

Burned Alive by Souad: A memoir by a young Jordanian woman who was the victim of an "honor crime" describes how she was nearly killed by her own family, her struggle to survive critical burns after being set on fire, and her determination to build a new life for herself.

Candyfreak: A Journey Through the Chocolate Underbelly of America by Steve Almond: After confessing to being a lifelong chocoholic, the aptly named Almond traces the history and bittersweet business practices of the companies producing those addictive candy bars.

The Complete Cartoons of the New Yorker edited by Robert Mankoff: Showcases the work of hundreds of artists who have contributed to the magazine throughout its 80-year history.

Year 2004 Top Audiobook Picks

Amateur Marriage

(CD and Cassette)

by Anne Tyler: In the heat of World War II, young Michael and Pauline hastily get married. Pauline, impulsive and impractical, tumbles hit-or-miss through life, while Michael, cautious and judgmental, proceeds deliberately. In time their foolish quarrels take their toll. Read by Blair Brown.

The Birth of Venus

(CD)

by Sarah Dunat: In the late Renaissance Florence, young Alessandra, an unusually educated woman, must choose her own path: a marriage of convenience to her brother's homosexual lover, or a dangerous love affair with the house painter. Read by Kathe Mazur.

Year 2004 Top Fiction Picks

The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates: Follows the interconnected and secretive lives of parents and their children when they are challenged by circumstances outside their family, in a tale set against a backdrop of Niagara Falls in the mid-20th century.

Good Grief by Lolly Winston: Grieving over the death of her husband from cancer, 36-year-old Sophie Stanton finds her personal and professional world in a shambles and, in an attempt to reinvent her life, moves to Ashland, Oregon, where she encounters a troubled 13-year-old girl, a job as the Salad Girl at the local restaurant, and a cute actor. (Also available in Large Print format.)